2001-2010Andrew Thomas HuntCanadaCrimeThriller

Andrew Thomas Hunt – Sweet Karma (2009)


A mute Russian girl infiltrates Toronto’s underground sex trade to avenge the death of her sister.

Montreal Gazette wrote:
2009, Canada
Directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt
Written by Andrew Thomas Hunt, James Fler, Michael Paszt
Starring Shera Bechard, John Tokatlidis, Frank J. Zupancic, Christian Bako
82 minutes, English

The exploitation film formula is fairly simple: take a social issue or problem, and try to solve it with breasts and knives. Everything from race relations to drug addiction has been tackled in this fashion. And though the films don’t provide any real solutions, I’m now unable to debate drug policy without suggesting criminals should have their genitals mutilated by woman in stiletto heels. Thanks, 1970s genre cinema.

Speaking of castration, though the golden age of the exploitation film was in the 1970s, Canada’s Sweet Karma proves the genre is alive and well. Co-written and directed by Andrew Thomas Hunt, the film tackles the very serious issue of human trafficking, avoiding the stern-tongue clucking of a 60 Minutes segment in favour of a Dirty Harry sex fantasy.

So yes, Sweet Karma is brutal. Surprisingly so, in certain scenes, and it announces its exploitation status in the first five minutes with a knife-punctured skull. But that doesn’t it make it irrelevant. The film follows Karma (Shera Bechard), a mute Russian woman who discovers her sister has been murdered in Toronto by sex-traffickers. This inspires her to head for Canada with revenge on her mind, and skimpy clothes in her luggage.

Like many exploitation films, Sweet Karma suffers somewhat from its low budget. A few of the performances are a touch stilted, and some of the motel room locations lack character. But Karma makes a fine heroine, and Bechard turns in an emotionally resonant performance without a word of dialogue. The action scenes are well-choreographed and vicious, particularly the aforementioned castration, and all in all, the film is respectable return to form for the exploitation genre.

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